Biden approves redeployment of under 500 ground troops to Somalia

US Materials 17 May 2022 01:50 (UTC +04:00)
Biden approves redeployment of under 500 ground troops to Somalia

U.S. President Joe Biden has authorized the redeployment of fewer than 500 American troops into Somalia, U.S. officials said on Monday, after Donald Trump ordered their withdrawal during his presidency, Trend reports citing Reuters.

Prior to Trump's withdrawal, the United States had about 700 troops in Somalia focused on helping local forces defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency.

"This is a repositioning of forces already in theater who have traveled in and out of Somalia on an episodic basis," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. The exact number of troops was not mentioned at the briefing.

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Biden had approved the request from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to "enable a more effective fight against al Shabaab."

The Pentagon said the troops would not be directly fighting in combat operations, but working to train, advise and equip Somali forces.

"Secretary's (Austin's) view was that the episodic engagement model was inefficient and increasingly unsustainable," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

The revamped troop presence will include fewer than 500 U.S. troops, another U.S. official said.

Al Shabaab is seeking to topple the government and establish its own rule in Somalia based on its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

The insurgent group frequently carries out bombings in Mogadishu and elsewhere as part of its war against the Horn of Africa country's central government.

"It's good news to have U.S. troops on the ground and counterterrorism efforts can be reinitiated," said Colonel Ahmed Sheikh, the former commander of Somalia's elite Danab Special Forces unit, trained by U.S. troops.